Best known for their textured, melodramatic songs, the Dears are back with their newest full length, Gang of Losers. This time around they've tightened up their sound and improved production to create a more focused album. Some of the quirkiness that helped set them apart from their peers is gone, but the changes have served to make their latest more accessible than their previous efforts--at the expense of some of the fun.
While Gang of Losers features a slightly simpler sound, fans will be happy to know Murray Lightburn's vocals are as top-notch as ever. His soulful voice adds much emotion to the Dears' music, from his tortured screams on "Bandwagoneers" to the cheery chorus on their first single "Ticket to Immortality." Though the album focuses on "not fitting in with society" and other tired doom and gloom themes, the Dears manage to sneak a silver lining behind every tear. The excellent "Ballad of Humankindness" channels the spirit of The Beatles' "Eleanor Rigby" for the intro before shifting gears into an uplifting and catchy song.
Gang of Losers is a strong album and although some fans may be disappointed with the new direction there is still plenty here to enjoy.